The high-end bicycle-making world of today is marked by twin peaks. On one hand, there's the 10-pound marvels brewed in the laboratory with featherweight carbon and fighter-plane branding, marketed by the pro peloton. On the other are the masterpieces of hand-built steel, that keep the carbon mixed with iron.
In the last 40 years, Richard Sachs has worked atop the latter peak, welding—well, brazing—himself into the bicycle pantheon as one of America's greatest frame-builders. His lugged racing bikes (traditionally painted red and cream) provide a uniquely impressive vision of what a bike can and should be and are priced accordingly, fetching many thousands of dollars. When available, that is. It rarely happens because people seldom want to sell his bikes. And buying one from him is pretty much out of the question; his legendary waiting list is almost a decade long.
A quick bio, in his own words "I didn't set out to become a bicycle maker. I became a bicycle maker. My original Peddie School-era desire to attend Goddard College and study creative writing took a turn in 1971 and I ended up in London at a shop owned by the Witcomb family. I stayed for a year, returned to America, turned 20 in Connecticut, and by 1975 was making bicycles with my own name on them. When you see a balloon being taken to random places owing to the wind's push and pull, that's me. I am that balloon."
Supercompressor interviewed Sachs about bikes and frame-building before, but thought it was about time to find out what the 61-year-old needs when he's not in the shop and off the bike. Below, the five things Richard Sachs can't live without.